Relationships are complicated even under the best of circumstances. For Varda Dorfman and Tommy Campi, these are the worst of times. Varda, an illegal foods smuggler, has pissed off Anthony Carluccio, the kingpin of the local underground dinner club, and put her plans for the future in serious jeopardy. Her boyfriend Gino won’t quit bugging her to get married, even though his mother hates her. Tommy, Gino’s brother and the ladies man of the family, can’t even introduce the love of his life to anyone: he’s secretly gay and dating the son of Carluccio’s biggest competition. And now Tommy’s getting pressure to go public.
When Carluccio’s hit man turns up dead in Varda’s closet after snacking on poisonous mushrooms, all hell breaks loose. Varda’s running for her life, and since his mother is dating Carluccio, Gino’s convinced the only way to save her life is to finally drag her to the altar. And when people start discovering Tommy’s hush-hush relationship, things really start to get interesting.
This isn’t the first time Aida Brassington has stopped by the blog. Back in December, Aida let me interview her about her other book, Between Seasons. Now she’s here to tell us about her most recent novel, Chasing Fools, and how she used vivid and sensory writing to bring the story to life. Aida has also very generously provided two copies of her book to giveaway. Giveaway is at the bottom, don’t pass it up.
A big thank you to Aida Brassington for taking the time to write such a descriptive post and for offering copies of Chasing Fools to giveaway.
Aida Brassington is a writer who lives in a haunted house in the suburbs of Pennsylvania with her husband of five years and a Great Dane named Patrick. She loves all things related to Halloween and spooky movies, but not because she shares her house with a ghost (and it should be noted her ghost does nothing more than occasionally appear in the second floor hallway and hide her keys) — she just likes being scared.
She is a former political junkie with a deep interest in artisan food, reading, and scuba diving. She has never spent time in a mental institution but often questions her mental health.
Aida can be bribed with chocolate. Bribed into what? Well, that all depends.
Gag reflex is a funny thing. I’m someone with a really low gross-out level, particularly when it comes to food. It seems I’m in the minority: the earliest drafts of my new novel, CHASING FOOLS, (a genre mashup of sorts—dark comedy, romantic suspense, family drama) had my beta readers encouraging me to tone down the first chapter a smidge because it was so vomit-inducing. After stripping the chapter of some of the more revolting elements, I workshopped it and received a lot of commentary about how vivid the writing is in terms of sensory triggers.
What is it about the chapter? If you’ve ever watched a show like Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods or Anthony Bourdain’s travel shows, you might know about a cheese called casu marzu—pecorino that’s lousy with larvae. Yeah, it’s delicacy. And my main character, Varda Dorfman, is an illegal foods smuggler. Sight, smell, sound, and touch all play a critical part of setting scene, and I play on all of them.
In this short excerpt of CHASING FOOLS, Varda has landed in the airport after a dozen hours in the air with no refrigeration for her cargo. She’s taking preventative measures before attempting to sneak the cheese past customs:
She took shallow breaths, gulping small puffs of air through her mouth. The paper and cloth under her fingers moved, she was sure of it. Oh, God, what if the maggots were escaping? Hell, they’d had a lot of time to plot their desertion. They could be mobilizing, ready to out her to the authorities by timing a prison break right in the middle of Customs.
It’s nothing, it’s nothing.
Varda re-dressed the cheese in fresh wrapping, avoiding the removal of the last layer of cheesecloth so she wouldn’t have to actually see the cheese again. It took only a few panic-filled minutes, and the new barriers and layers over the rind cut down on the aroma. Not enough, though, and she’d never get the odor out of her hands.
See? It could have been so much worse (and was at one time). Still, it presents a potential problem to any writer. You don’t want to disgust your readers, but you also don’t want to edit your work until it’s so inoffensive that the senses aren’t smacked. There’s a fine line writers have to walk between satisfying themselves and providing the reader with an acceptable experience. In some cases, a writer might not worry so much about this. If you’ve ever read Irvine Welsh’s novel Filth, you know this is the case.
It’s really about knowing your audience. CHASING FOOLS will appeal to several different groups—traditional romance readers, foodies, and people who like Tom Robbins and Christopher Moore. That’s a pretty wide range, so in thinking about novel revisions it was necessary to tailor the gross-out level of the first chapter (and it did win the WritersType First Chapter Contest for July 2012). If you’re a sensitive soul, you might be a little grossed out, but foodies will still get a kick out of it. And at the very least, you’ll get a good sensory experience from reading. And isn’t that what reading is all about?
So let’s chat about the novels you’ve read that play on your senses for a fuller reading experience. What’s the most memorable book you’ve read—and how did touch, sound, taste, etc. play a role? And if you’re curious about CHASING FOOLS, enter the raffle for a chance to win one of two digital copies in your choice of format (PDF, mobi, epub).
- 2 winners will receive an ebook copy of Chasing Fools by Aida Brassington.
- The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 2nd.
- Fill out the form below to enter.
- Must be 13 or older to enter.
- Name and email must be provided and counts as 1 entry.
- Winner must respond within 48 hours.